Religion & Jesus- S1E8- Mark 7 by John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 7- Religion & Jesus.

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Religion and Jesus

Religion focuses on appearances but God focuses on the heart. The religion is our attempt to ascend to God. Jesus is God’s way of bringing us to him.

Mark 7 is all about religion and why it doesn’t work. Religion is our attempt to get closer to God when all it really does is create barriers between us and him.

Remember the Pharisees? They were good guys turned bad. Their zeal to obey God drove them to create laws around God’s 613 laws in the Torah. God’s laws are all direct expressions of how to love our God and our neighbors. But by the time Jesus arrived, they had written so much legislation around this that they roadblocked people from even getting close to God (Matthew 23:4).

Religion is terrible! Religion attempts to replace God’s law. It makes people who are natural rule-keepers proud (and God opposes proud people). Not only that, it also condemns people that Jesus has compassion for. It simply creates hateful people who oppose Jesus and the religious people in Mark’s gospel want to kill him.

Now I do want to clarify that there is what the Bible calls “pure and faultless” religion. (James 1:27).

Luke at Mark 7:20-23. Many people have asked why God allows evil and suffering. But if evil isn’t some wicked force out there in society, that means evil is a problem inside of us; after all, we collectively make up society! Society is a reflection of us.

If we are the problem, we need God to save us from ourselves. We are not the solution. We need to submit to God by repenting, changing our minds, and consequently, our course of action (Colossians 3:5-8).

The opposite of tolerance is repentance! If we don’t repent, we are rejecting God’s offer of salvation from spiritual death to life.

Q&A

1). Which English version of the Bible has the best translation of the original text?

I love this question! Every translation is a trade-off between translating words and meaning. We have a lot of great Bible versions! Translations also fall short because of their strengths.

There are basically 4 kinds of Bibles: Formal, dynamic, paraphrase, and corruption.

Some emphasize translation of the words of the original. (These versions are the NKJV, NASB, and ESV.) Some emphasize the meaning of the biblical words. (These versions are the CSB, NIV, NLT, NCV, and a few others.) Then you have paraphrases. These versions function like cliff notes, rewording a chunk of text to make the main idea clear, as the paraphraser sees it. (The Message and the Living Bible function like this.) Corruptions are Bibles that deliberately mistranslated in order to deceive. The New World Translation for example, is guilty of mishandling John 1:1. Jesus is not “a god” but “God.” (That’s one of a few examples.)

The question shouldn’t be which of these is the best translation because there is no such thing as cream of the crop. But there are types of translations that are better than others. You should avoid the corruptions. A paraphrase can be helpful if a passage is overly familiar to you and you want to hear it a fresh way. I personally feel “at home” with the formal translations, in particular, the ESV because I’m the kind of Bible reader that wants to see the words of the original reflected in my English text, regardless of how it sounds in English.

I also appreciate that it is a traditional sounding Bible version. Others might consider this a weakness as it sounds “archaic” to people that prefer a translation that puts more emphasis on meaning, making it easier to read in English, while it at times, obscures the underlying Greek and Hebrew texts. So my second favorite Bible translation is the NIV. It is the best translation in its group of dynamic translations. A third favorite is the NLT. Between these 3 translations, I feel like I have the best of each philosophy.

The reason why I feel that the formal philosophy is better is because it is more important what they said than how we would say it. So I’m okay with a translation that sounds like bad English if it is closer to what’s in the original.

2). What percent of the global population do you envision will submit to the Mark of the Beast?

With all due respect, that is the wrong question. Rule #1 when you’re reading the Revelation is that it can’t mean to us what it didn’t mean to the original hearers.

The first thing you need to know is that the mark of the beast was taken by the people in John’s day, and what’s in question is how did they take it? Remember that God seals his people (Rev 7:4), the devil copies that with his mark of the beast.

So the mark of the beast is generally the antithesis of God marking his own people. In Revelation 13:18 where we read that the mark of the beast is “the number of a man,” it can also be translated as the “the number of humanity.” The mark of the beast symbolizes living life in opposition to God’s authority.

3). Will the Ark of the Covenant have a place in the Millennial Temple during Christ’s reign?

The short answer is no. The ark of the covenant is no longer around for all I know and there is no future temple (according to my understanding of eschatology). I have to admit though, it would be awesome to see them!

4). Why did you decide to read the Bible? What did you get out of reading it? What relevance does it have in 2021?

I still read it because God isn’t done speaking to me. He reminds, encourages, challenges, rebukes, and informs me, all in the same place. Just as the body needs foods to be healthy, the soul needs God’s Word as contained in the Bible. That’s why I keep going back to it. I’ve read it cover to cover 4 times and God still uses it to speak to me. The Lord is doing this year what he has done every year, that is, building our relationship – him speaking to me in the Scriptures and me responding through prayer.

5). Were the Old Testament saints limited only to the Israelites according to the Bible or were any gentile nations included in the contract with God?

Good question. The Old Testament mainly focuses on God’s kindness to a family – Abraham’s family, but the offer of salvation is still available to people from other nation. This is clearly seen in Exodus. As God is plaguing Egypt, even Pharaoh’s servants who thought of the Pharaoh as a god himself, suggested submitting to the more powerful God (Exodus 10:7).

It is not lost to me that God has the foreigner in mind when he passes laws like this one: “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you” (Exodus 12:48–49, NIV).

Later, it is probably these same servants who joined Israel as they left Egypt. “The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds” (Exodus 12:37–38, NIV).

When you read the Psalms, there is the constant refrain of “let the nations be glad; let the peoples rejoice.” The prophets all prophesy to not only Israel, but the Gentiles as well. Even Jesus (the authority of the Old Testament) says that the Gentiles are included in the plan of salvation, but the Jews come first (Matthew 15:24).

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The Weekly Bible Lab: S1E4- The Parables- with John Stapleton

YouTuber John Stapleton continues with the Gospel of Mark 5- The Parables. Be sure to subscribe.

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The Parables
Get it on Apple Books

BIG IDEA

We fight fear with faith. Based on Mark 5.

1. The Story

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered
around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and
when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying.
Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him.

A large crowd followed and pressed around him. And a woman was there who had been subject to
bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had
spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from
her suffering. (5:21-29) 1

2. Comparison of Jairus and the Woman

1 Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by
Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. http://www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and
“New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica,
Inc.™

3. Responses to Jesus: Fear and Faith

Jesus switches the two, raising the status of the woman by making her the one to emulate. The
woman was afraid, but she professed her faith. “Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just believe.’”
(5:36).

Jesus goes and raises the girl and the witnesses still don’t believe. “They were completely astonished.”
(5:42). The root of unbelief is fear. Fear is a lack of faith and this is a theme that serves as an
undercurrent of this gospel.

The disciples were afraid when Jesus calmed the sea (4:40).

  • The townspeople were afraid when they saw the demoniac healed (5:15).
  • Peter was afraid at the transfiguration (9:6).
  • The disciples were afraid of thinking about Jesus dying (9:32).
  • The disciples were afraid going up to Jerusalem (10:32).
  • The women were afraid at the tomb (16:8).

CONCLUSION: “Don’t be afraid, just believe.” (5:36)

Q&A

1). Why did the Biblical God give humanity the option not to follow God?

Because love would not be freely given if it is forced. The ability to choose love
over hate; to choose who we will love, is what makes love so genuine. But if God
pre-programmed humans to love him, that wouldn’t be love from the will; it
would be instinct. If love is free, it is possible that some people won’t choose to
follow God.

2). I’m getting better at knowing how to read the Bible and understanding it.
Why is that?

I don’t know you personally, so I can’t tell you specifically what is working, but
my guess is you have devoted a lot of time to learning it.

It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at anything. Your commitment to the
day in, day out, rhythms of daily devotions, Bible reading, and Bible study has
certainly paid off!

The Bible has been described as pond that an infant can splash in, as well as an
ocean that the biggest of elephants can wade in. Perhaps you want to start
learning the original languages to know the precision of the text better. Maybe
you want to read commentaries. I just want to challenge you, as I also encourage
you, to keep up the good work as you grow deeper in love and understanding (as
you always can)!

3). What is the most relevant to modern life, the Old or New Testament?

The New Testament is more applicable to Christianity, since the New
Testament is the words of the New Covenant that was inaugurated by the blood
of Jesus

However, the question is about modern life. Well, the Bible is an ancient book
that records ancient history and people; the Bible however is timeless, so it’s able
to speak to any people at any time. We are not that different from them.

The book of Proverbs (in the Old Testament) is a great practical book that is
modern people could stand to benefit from. It has a wealth of information about
living well – from money to relationships! I think we rob ourselves when we pick
and choose of gleaning from all of the Bible.

4). Will this current generation live to witness the rapture and Christ’s return?

No generation can confidently affirm that they will see Christ return. Howbeit,
we are one generation closer to his return than before.

It’s tempting for every generation to look at the brokenness of the world in their
given era of history and assume that they are the last generation, but we would be
false prophets if we make that claim.

When I consider what Jesus taught about this, I conclude that he wants us to
know about the day of his return (it won’t surprise us like it will surprise the
world) but we won’t know the precise time of the event itself, and that is how
God wanted it because only he knows. Our ignorance of when Jesus is coming
back encourages us to live faithfully and expectantly, like the Old Covenant Jews
waited for the Messiah. Faithfulness is our only option, not predicting dates.

5). What does “for the time is at hand” mean in Revelations 1:3?

John means that the time is near. This creates more questions though, like, “The
time for what?” and, “How soon is soon?”

When John says that the time is at hand, he’s saying it’s time for Jesus to be
revealed and for the curtain to be pulled back that divides life on earth from
spiritual realities. The book of Revelation wasn’t given to us so that we can know
the future timeline of world events; it was given to see Jesus’ authority over all
time and space.

What does ‘soon’ mean? I’ve done a word study on it and it simply means… soon.
One thing to keep in mind when reading the Bible is it is a mix of God’s
perspective and ours. What does ‘soon’ mean to God who is not confined by
time? It will mean something different than how we consider soon. It’s almost
comparable to how long you thought an hour was when you were a kid versus
now; an hour felt like forever and now it’s a small window of time.

6). How do you pronounce ‘Selah’ in the Bible?

“Say-law”

Selah is a Hebrew word that appears many times throughout the Psalms and
means something like an interlude. It is an invitation for the hearer or reader to
stop and reflect on what was just said.

In general, Selah is a constant reminder in the Bible to not just read it, but
meditate on it, mull it over, keep chewing, keep pondering; have the scriptures on
playback in your mind.

7). What does it mean in the Bible, “godliness with contentment” in 1 Timothy
6:6?

In order to understand godliness, we need to understand what wickedness is.
Earlier in this passage, Paul gives us a definition:

“If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our
Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand
nothing” (1 Timothy 6:3-4 NIV).

If wickedness is against biblical teaching, godliness is what lines up with what
God’s revealed will is in the Bible.

Contentment is not complacency. It is being satisfied with your situation while
planning for the future. It’s not a constant grabbing for more; not a constant
ache for the next stage of life.

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It’s Your Eve of Security

Your Eve Of Security

Are you finished putting your security in what people say you can and cannot do?

Your Biblical Ground Work: Genesis 2-3

Eve was the first woman to obey and disobey God.

  • She was the first woman to see what a lack of protection looks like from a husband. And the first women to be used by the Devil to introduce sin into her life.
  • She was the first woman to have children. And the first woman to mourn the loss of two sons at the same time.
  • She was the first woman to do every thing from building a house to working the ground. 

However, she was never told by the Lord that she couldn’t work for Jesus. She was never told she couldn’t lead a man and was never told to be silent. Quite the opposite: she was spoken to and spoke to God.

She was never told she was subservient to her husband, but enjoyed equality with equal duties to take care of her family. And in case you don’t know — all of humanity was her family.

Our Biblical Lesson: Put your security in Jesus because it is His vision that You are walking in. 

The Lord has given you a vision just as He gave Eve one. He will accomplish it in you as you become more like Him in this world. Eve is the mother of all humanity without limitations from man. You can accomplish your vision without limitation from man as well. She did what the Lord assigned to her and ALL the work it took to grow accomplish it.

You can do the same because He is God and you are His. 

Putting off walking in your vision from God because someone told you that you are not qualified, due to your feminine features, is a mistake. Eve accomplished what was assigned to her in spite of her new limitations because she was out of the perfect garden. She worked there was fruitful the first time but now she has to toil to be fruitful. She toiled. 

The evidence that Eve was never held back is of great significance to all woman. There are many who belief that all women should be held back from their vision from God because they are women. That is fine, let them believe that and don’t let it stop you from going forward.

Put your security in Jesus and He will lead you as well as transform your mind into His thinking. Submitting to the process of understanding His will for your life is walking in your vision even if you don’t know His vision yet.

This has been a Biblical Lesson that you can live life to.

If you want to learn more lessons from the women of the Bible join The Bible Gals here

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Faithfulness’ Dependency on the Holy Spirit

Good fruit on a tree isn’t produced independently of the tree, nor of the nutrients flowing up the roots towards the branches. Good fruit isn’t produced just because the branch wants it so. So where do we go when we are commanded to bear the fruit of faithfulness? 

The apostles had it right when they cried, “Increase our faith.” They knew apart from Jesus, their faith was weak, perhaps even not apparent. We are no different than the apostles, our faithfulness is dependent on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

What Does Faithfulness Look Like?

The beginning of faith is a belief in God, the conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, and it is him that gives us eternal life. That is the evidence of the fruit faithfulness.

We Trust God

We trust God because he is faithful. He has already shown us what faithfulness looks like. We have learned through time and experience that God is faithful, we are confident in his faithfulness towards us.

“All the promises of God are yes, in Christ Jesus.” (2 Corinthians 1:20)

God is a promise keeper. When we pray and God answers, we learn he is faithful. Over time, when we realize God protects us and provides for us all the time, our confidence in his faithfulness increases.

His Faithfulness Increases our Dependability

Because of God’s fidelity, we become faithful not only to God but to our word and promises. Soon people find that they can trust us or even confide in us about their deepest secrets.

Christian women who work with South Asian women quickly become the sole confidant for these Asian women because they know that their secrets go nowhere but to God. They have confidence that their Christian friend will not gossip.

This is a reflection on the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of believers who say we must produce fruit worthy of a faithful and trustworthy God. God says we are not to gossip; therefore, we will keep his word. It’s all about him.

The Fruit of Faithfulness Is Not a Feeling

Faithfulness is not a feeling we have towards God, but rather is a demonstration of the influences of the Holy Spirit who directs and controls our feelings towards people. The Christian is a faithful wife, husband, child, neighbour, employee. A Christian is someone others can depend on. We are reliable in our words and actions.

Even in difficulties and opposition, we are to be found faithful to those around us and to God. Only the work of the Holy Spirit can produce that kind of faithfulness. Even if others are not faithful to us, God calls us to exercise the fruit of faithfulness.

What are some examples of bearing the fruit of faithfulness when others are not faithful towards us, or when we are going through difficulties? Maybe you have a compelling story to tell about faithfulness.

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Will You Have A MARY Christmas?

WILL YOU HAVE A MARY CHRISTMAS?

“But Martha was cumbered about much serving…and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?” (Luke 10:40)

Mary and Martha had invited Jesus into their home. The problem was, by the time Jesus arrived, Martha was stressed out! There was so much work to be done:

  • the house had to be cleaned
  • the meal had to be cooked
  • the table had to be set.

Everything had to be just right because Jesus was coming.

Sometimes we can be as bad as Martha, especially as writers. We can let the stress of writing, or the pressure of trying to complete our book by a certain deadline, to create undue stress in our lives. The problem is when we allow ourselves to be stressed out, the gift of writing (which God intended to be a blessing) soon becomes a burden.

Two Lessons The Lord Taught Me About Martha’s Stress

LESSON #1: Serving the Lord should not become stressful.
Martha was stressed out, but Mary wasn’t stressed out at all. I don’t think Mary was lazy, she just thought it was more important to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His Word, first.

The reason many people end up stressed out isn’t because they don’t love the Lord. It is because they are trying to do the work of the ministry in the flesh without preparing their heart first. Our flesh will fail us.

It is imperative that we take time, like Mary, to sit at the feet of Jesus in order to prepare ourselves.

LESSON #2: Our WORSHIP is more important than our WORK.
I am not saying our work isn’t important; it is. I am simply saying that our work will not be all it should be if it is not done from a heart of worship. A manuscript that is written while under stress will sound much different than one written from the overflow of a heart filled with worship. The end result will be as different as a book written by Martha, versus one written by Mary.

Have A Mary Christmas!!

So, let’s spend the necessary time making sure our heart is prepared in a spirit of worship. When it is, it will transform our MARTHA Christmas into a MARY Christmas!

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How Good is the Fruit of Goodness?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “good” as having a “favourable character”. That would be Charlie Brown. “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” allows us to love Charlie who is friendly and polite and strives to triumph over difficulties. He is a good man, but is this the kind of goodness Paul is talking about? How good is the fruit of goodness? And can we be that good?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5: 22-23

What Does Goodness Mean in the Bible?

Goodness has to do with uprightness of heart and life. Are we an upright character? That means a moral correctness that is expressed in action. It means that we must have a morally good heart that does good things. So yes, Charlie Brown is good, but as believers we need to go further and look to Him who is holy. That is the true measure of goodness. Furthermore, we cannot achieve that degree of goodness on our own, we need Him who transforms lives.

“We pray for God’s power to help you do all the good things you hope to do, and your faith makes you want to do.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

Lest We Get Too Proud

A ruler came to Jesus and said, “Good teacher, what must I do to have eternal life?” Then Jesus questioned him and said that only God is good. On our own we are terribly flawed. Even our righteous acts are as filthy rags. We are all sinners and none of us does good. Oh, God help us to be good like Jesus, like you. We need God’s help desperately.

We are called to bear the fruit of goodness. Unless we are grafted into the good tree, the good branch we can bear no fruit. It may appear as good, but it is flawed. Terribly flawed.

Self-righteousness, conceit, false motivations, all these “hidden agenda’s creep into any goodness we attempt on our own. May the cleansing blood of Jesus produce in us good fruit worthy of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town probably expresses goodness better, “He knows if you’ve been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake!” What if we wrote instead, “Jesus knows if you have been bad or good. So be good for goodness sake! Jesus is coming to town tonight.”

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The Fruit of Kindness by Helen Khan

“Kind words of a friend when your outlook is gloom, how it brightens your day like the dawn” are two lines from one of my mother’s favourite hymns, The Best Things in Life are Free. We all need kind words and we all like to think that we are kind. Maybe we are kind some of the time, but can we say that we are overflowing with the fruit of kindness? Do we need to always bear fruit? Do we bear fruit in season only and when is that season?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5: 22-23 (NIV)

I don’t find a Bible verse that says I can pick the season when I bear fruit. When I read passages that say, “always be ready”, that means I need to always be fruitful. But the truth is I am incapable of bearing fruit all the time. I am not always kind. I need help, I need to be filled. Where can I get a good outpouring of kindness to fill my cup?

Jesus is Kindness Personified

Jesus is the ultimate example and outpouring of kindness. God, in his great lovingkindness towards us, laid on Jesus the iniquity of us all so that we might be saved from destruction and have LIFE with him, now and forever more. He bore our transgressions while we were yet sinners so that we would be saved from death. This is called unconditional love, a condition of kindness

God calls us to be imitators of him, as beloved children to walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But this too is impossible without God’s help. It is through Jesus our minds are renewed when we “put on the new self that has been created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4: 24 NIV). It is only in Jesus we bear the fruit of kindness in and out of season.

Kindness is Love in ACTION.

Kindness has many synonyms: generousness, consideration, mercifulness, charitableness and many more. It is only kindness if there is no expectation of praise or reward. (I think most of us fail this test.) I know of only one who passed it. His name is Jesus.

Every act and every word that Jesus did while on earth was an expression of pure lovingkindness. His kindness was of the radical variety for he befriended prostitutes, tax-collectors, the poor, the ragged and even a thief on a cross. Oh, what a liberal he was!

Liberal you say! This is not a political statement – that is a whole different discussion. I am playing with words because Jesus was liberal with the sinner but never liberal with sin.

Jesus bent down and told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. He had compassion for her but not for her sin. Jesus showed mercy, compassion, sorrow for the downtrodden sinner and righteous indignation with the religious bigots. He touched the leper, the blind, the repentant sinner and wept for the self-righteous who didn’t recognise their disease and need for the Physician.

This was LOVE in ACTION.

This is what kindness is, an outpouring of love that is active and touches lives. In Aesop’s fable The Lion and the Mouse, “the moral of the story is no act of kindness is ever wasted.” God’s kindness towards us is not wasted. Let us pour out the fruit of kindness unto EVERYONE because God has so generously poured out lovingkindness for us.

I would love to hear back from you about stories of kindness. Has someone shown kindness to you? Have you shown kindness to someone who needed “kind words when their outlook was gloom”? Please leave a comment about kindness.

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The Spirit’s Fruit of Peace

And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another.
This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 4:4)

The common mantra is peace is found within us. Transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” Peace is a state of being word, but is it something we can actualize within ourselves through meditation, positive thinking, philanthropy, or any other self- produced action or thought we may engage in? What is the source of the fruit of peace and how do we develop it?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

Galatians 5: 22-23

What is Peace?

Peace, we all want it.

There is no peace in some homes. A wife, subject to domestic violence, longs for peace in her home, peace where her husband doesn’t beat her anymore. A child aches for peace where mother and father don’t fight. A mother wishes her toddlers would give her some peace and quiet. Could she just have the house to herself for a day, or go out with girlfriends for coffee? All of us want peace.

Humankind clamours for world peace. We yearn for “peace on earth and goodwill towards men.” The UN is our biggest global peace agency. Organizations and committees are formed to develop peace talks and strategies so hopefully, someday we will have peace. Recently, world leaders brokered a peaceful economic normalization agreement between Kosovo and Serbia, but is that peace?

Peace begins at home, in the heart. The Hebrew word “Shalom” means peace. Derivatives of “Shalom” are “Salaam”, used by Christians in East Asia and “As salaam u-alaikum” used by Muslims throughout the world. Paul started his letters with words of “Grace and Peace”. What did Paul’s greetings of peace mean?

Reconciliation between man and God is the ultimate peace we can have. Without reconciliation with God, there can be no peace. We might have a peaceful world, a peaceful family, a peaceful life, but whether we have peace, or no peace, is determined by the relationship we have with God through Jesus Christ who is the Prince of Peace.

Where Does Peace Come From?

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27) So, not only is Jesus the real Joy-giver, he is also our Peace-giver. Without the Prince of Peace, there is no peace.  Jesus made peace for us between God and mankind through his blood. “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Colossians 1:19-20)

First, we need to be reconciled to God, then we will have inner peace. That folks is the beginning place for peace.

What Peace Isn’t

Some of us try to work out our salvation through good deeds. We bypass Jesus and believe our good works are going to get us to heaven. I live in a country where this belief is dominate in the religion. And all I see is strife. When we strive for a foot into heaven, we open the door to competitiveness, comparison, to jealousy, to strife, contention, and religious self-righteousness. Better that we simply rest in the finished work of Christ. It puts all men on equal ground, therefore, there is no striving because he completed it for us. In Christ we don’t have to fight anymore because we rest in him for our salvation.

What Does Peace Look Like?

At Peace with Troubles: People who have inner peace because of the finished work of Christ, are not troubled or afraid. That doesn’t mean we don’t have troubles, or we don’t ever worry or are afraid. We are human, but the general direction of our heart is at peace because we trust God for his protection and provisions for now and all eternity. Jesus said, “In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the word. (John 16:23)

All Are Respected and Equal: There is no enmity since Jesus “has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility.” So we don’t have to divide ourselves into male vs. female, blacks vs. whites, Catholics vs. Protestants, etc. We are all equal in Christ Jesus. That doesn’t say we don’t recognize difference, but those differences do not divide us. We are united in Christ.

Live Peacefully With All Men: Because we have inner peace, we “love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us and pray for those who mistreat us” (Luke 6: 27-28). We stand as peacemakers, seeking justice for those who are oppressed, downtrodden and rejected in society.

Inner peace doesn’t say that wars will end, in fact they will increase as we near the end of the age. But we can remain calm amid the storm. That is the peace that passes all understanding, a peace that the world doesn’t have.

What does peace look to you?

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Triumphal Entry


Have you ever come into the middle of a conversation, and it sounds really interesting, and you try to get what everyone is talking about, from the context?

I mean, first you are quiet and you just nod your head, “mmhhm, mmhhm,” and you hope no one has noticed you have just inserted yourself. Inside you are scrambling to piece it all together. But, at some point you realize there is just too much you don’t know, you have too few puzzle pieces for you to understand what’s going on.

I think that is how we hear the story of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We try to get why this event is so momentous it shows up in all four gospels as the commencement of Passion Week. But, there is just too much important background information that is missing for us to really grasp the importance—and symbology—of what was happening in this scene.

First, we will look at the passage, then I am going to tell you four stories, so you will have all you need to understand what is going on. Then we will go back to the passage and piece it all together.

(There was something going on with my microphone, so throughout this talk you will hear glitches. Hopefully, the talk itself will overcome that minor annoyance)

Triumphal Entry, Mark 11:1-11
Grace and Peace, Joanne

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Bartimaeus


In order to really get what this passage is about, you’ll need to look in a mirror for a few minutes. First, before you look in the mirror (maybe have it behind you), hold your hands above and below your head until you can just see them with your peripheral vision.

Now.

Turn to look at the hand above, so you can really see it.

Can you see your other hand anymore?

Move your other hand up just enough so you can just see it with your peripheral vision.

Okay, now, as you keep your hands in that position, turn around and look in the mirror.

Notice the position of your hands.

Your hands represent a perspectiveyou can see some things, but you can’t see all things.

By turning to your higher hand, you lost sight of your lower hand, and had to move it. You have to literally give up seeing some things so you are able to see other things.

Hang on to that. This is exactly what Mark has been trying to get to with this chapter, and with the lesson of Bartimaeus. You’ll see this same lesson echoed throughout the Christian Bible.



[Blind Bartimaeus | Fr Lawrence Lew, O.P. https://www.flickr.com/photos/paullew/ flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/%5D

Bartimaeus
Mark 10:46-52

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